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Pacific Coastal Airlines temporarily suspends flights due to Omicron cases among staff

Click to play video: 'Omicron forces temporary shut down of B.C. airline'
Omicron forces temporary shut down of B.C. airline
Many businesses and companies are very short-staffed right now, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads throughout the province. As Kamil Karamali reports, it's gotten so bad for one B.C. airline, they've had to temporarily ground operations. – Jan 1, 2022

Pacific Coastal Airlines has temporarily suspended flights due to the “rapid transmission” of the Omicron variant among staff at its operational control centre.

Flights on New Year’s Day will proceed as scheduled, but all network operations are suspended on Jan. 2 and 3, the regional airline confirmed Friday.

It “exhausted all options and resources” before taking the decision, it said in a statement on its website.

“It breaks my heart to be impacting the travel plans of so many customers, yet we are left with no viable alternative at this time,” said Pacific Coastal Airlines president Quentin Smith.

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“We are taking this quick and necessary measure to protect the integrity of our long term schedule and safeguard our operation.”

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Scheduled flights will resume on Jan. 4, the company said, and impacted customers will be offered an opportunity to reschedule or get a full refund.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: WestJet cancels flights because of Omicron-infected staff'
COVID-19: WestJet cancels flights because of Omicron-infected staff

Pacific Coastal Airlines’ news release did not specify how many of its operational control centre staff had tested positive for the COVID-19 variant, which has prompted new public health restrictions and flight cancellations across the country.

The privately-owned airline operates out of the south terminal of the Vancouver International Airport in Richmond and services 17 local airports in B.C. It also operates WestJet Link, which connects smaller communities in B.C. and Alberta.

On Dec. 30, WestJet Airlines cancelled 15 per cent of its flights scheduled for January due to staffing shortages related to Omicron.

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The Calgary-based airline says it has seen a 35 per cent increase in active cases among staff in recent days, with 181 WestJet employees currently affected by the virus.

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